We’ve played Swansea 3 times this season, losing one of the games and drawing 2 of them. This Sunday we will play them the fourth time this season, hoping to get an important win and three points to finish in the Top 4 for a Champions League place next season. But it will not be easy.
Getting promoted in 2011, Swansea City is the first Welsh team to play in the Barclays Premier League. The Capital One Cup champions are currently 9th in the league and already qualified for the Euro League next season. Swansea is capable to cause trouble to big teams in England. They defeated Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool last season and eliminated Chelsea and Liverpool from the Charity One Cup this season. So we definitely have to be careful on Sunday facing Swansea.
The „Swans” are called Barcelona’s little brother and rightly so. The style of keeping and holding the ball gives them a lot of ball possession (not in the dominating way that Barca has, of course, but it’s still very impressive), and the passing accuracy is very high too. Swansea is very well balanced between offence and defence, scoring 43 goals and conceding 42 goals.
The players of Swansea are very adaptable to the game and they are able to move out of their position without being unorganised. One of their strength is a collective marking and defending system that leaves the opponent’s offence hard to get through the middle by passing and puts the players under pressure immediately. At least two or even all three midfielders (e.g. Ki, Britton and de Guzman) at the 4-3-3 formation move out of their position to the left or right side in a horizontal line (the area in the middle is secured by marking and intelligent movement) and are quickly moved back if the situation of game changes. Going through the middle gets very hard for the opponent’s team because this zone is marked very well by the midfield-trio and the attacker is attacked immediately and only little area is left for him. That forces the opponent to pass back while the defence is new organised. The pushing up by these midfielders leads to what made Barcelona so successful these years: Pressing.
An aspect where Swansea is really different from Barcelona is how important their wingers are. With Michu, a dangerous man waiting in the middle, the wingers supply him with precise crosses. Nathan Dyer, Wayne Routledge and Pablo Hernandez are the danger men on the wings, all very strong in dribbling and on the ball. Michu scored a bit less than a half of his 17 goals with his head. But interestingly, Michu is actually an attacking midfielder, who has also played as a CM or even as a CDM. He doesn’t play as a striker up front, more as deep-lying forward and this causes more possession in midfield. Somehow familiar? Messi isn’t a number 9 player too and he plays as a forward from a deeper position. The Spanish national team played Fabregas as a deep-lying forward at the Euro 2012.
It’s able to get pass the defence with a very high pace in the game and on the wings, because moving the three midfielders can’t be carried out very fast and the wings aren’t covered very well.
Swansea is playing very beautiful football without spending lot money. The job that Laudrup and Rodgers have done at Swansea is very impressive. A solid performance should give us the win, but we’re so unpredictable in games against mid-table teams. Swansea has definitely got enough quality to beat us at the Bridge as they’ve shown it in January in the Capital One Cup game, so watch out.
Please leave your opinion on the game and on Swansea in the comments. Jonny (@jonny9fan)